Sewing a Vintage Pencil Skirt & a 90s Cami Top

Pencil Skirt Cami Top

I recently shared my #makenine list over on the vlog featuring this vintage pencil skirt pattern and cami top pattern. I had some John Kaldor Ohio stretch cotton fabric in my stash perfect for the skirt and decided to make the cami top in our Mystique satin backed crepe. Worn together they make the perfect outfit for summer evenings out.

Sewing the Pencil Skirt

As usual my measurements were straddling a 12 (hips) and a 14 (waist) so I cut a size 14 to be on the safe side. I also shortened it by 6cm at the shortening line marked on the pattern. The basic construction of the skirt was incredibly easy, but it did require a lot of adjustments for fitting. I'm sure this is due to my shape rather than the pattern (more on this later).

I loved sewing the multiple sets of darts and took great care to make sure I nailed the waistband. I used a waistband stiffener and followed advice to achieve sharp corners and insert the invisible zip across the seam. You can see a 'how to' blog post I wrote about it here.

Waistband with Invisible Zip

I deviated from the pattern instructions making a number of changes and think they worked really well. Angela pointed me in the right direction and suggested I moved the zip to the back seam rather than the side seam. Sewing a zip on a straight seam is far easier than sewing a zip on a curved seam.

I chose to use an invisible zip rather than a lapped zip (what a rebel) because I thought it would look neater. I chose a zip long enough to run across the waistband seam so I didn't need to use a hook and eye. To be honest those things drive me a bit nuts! There is nothing worse than fiddling with one of those when you're in a rush (as I always am) to leave the house. It's like trying to get your key in the door when the phone is ringing!

Angela also suggested I tapered the side seams in as I got towards the hem. She said pencil skirt patterns often don't taper in and don't look as good as if you do taper them in. Another little gem of sewing knowledge to add to the bank.

Front and Back View

As I mentioned the fitting of the skirt was a bit of a pain. You see this is a vintage inspired design and was probably sized with a Marilyn Monroe hourglass figure in mind rather than the boy hips and straight up straight down excuse for a waist I was blessed with. I made my usual sway back adjustment and reduced one set of back darts 1/4". Once I was happy with the fit round the waist I secured the waistband and sewed the side seams.

As expected the skirt was way too big around my hips and thighs. Angela helped me by marking where the side seams should go with pins whilst I was wearing it (I really must get a dressform!) Off I went to unpick the original seams and resew them to fit my shape. But they didn't. So we repeated. And they still didn't, so we repeated again.

I could go on and on and I lost count of how many times I unpicked and resewed these side seams until I got it right. Thank goodness the fabric was good quality and strong enough to take all of that abuse!

I'm still not 100% happy with one of the side seams and there are some very slight drag lines across the front of the skirt. Ed said I'm being too much of a perfectionist and no- one would ever notice. I'm going to choose to believe him.

Pencil Skirt and Cami Top

I overlocked the hem, pressed it up 5/8" and hand stitched in place to get a professional finish. I thought a machine stitched finish would ruin the overall look of the skirt.

Despite the fitting faffing I'm very happy with the finished skirt. It makes a lovely addition to my spring/summer wardrobe and I'm really pleased I got to use the beautiful fabric in the end.

It really was an incredibly easy make other than the fitting and I'm confident this was down to my shape rather than the pattern. If I made it again I would be tempted to cut a size 12.

There are other designs and colour ways available in the Ohio range on our site.  I was hoping to make some Sew Over It ultimate trousers in the coral colourway, but there is only 1.5m left. Get in quick if you want it!

Sewing the Cami Top

The cami top was an incredibly easy make. I even filmed me making it so I could share it in our vlog on YouTube. It includes a handy little tip for sewing rouleau straps on an overlocker perfect for summer dresses and tops.

Rouleau Straps

I cut a size 12 and it came together really well without any fitting adjustments necessary.

The pattern instructions said to press the hem up 5/8" and press again to create a narrow hem. As I mentioned in the vlog I overlocked the hem and stitched it in place instead. I'm really glad I did this because it gave a really delicate finish perfect for a pretty, feminine top like this.

Narrow Hem Finish on an Overlocker 1 Narrow Hem Finish on an Overlocker 2

I will definitely make this top again. It was so, so easy to do and you could rustle it up in a few hours. I like the other boxy T shirt and the skirt could be a real show stopper at the right event!

The colour isn't an exact match to the skirt, but I think I can get away with it. Who wants to be too matchy matchy anyway?! I will also definitely wear it with trousers/jeans for a more casual dressed up look. I can't stress enough what lovely quality the fabric is. It looks and feels sooooo luxurious I'm sure you'll agree.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

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